Questions to Ask Before Booking a Wedding Photographer

You’re in love. You’re ready to tie the knot. You’ve got the date picked out and you’ve reserved your venue. What’s next? It’s time to hire all the vendors for your event. Photography is a big decision for your wedding day. Long after the cake has been eaten and the flowers have wilted, your wedding photos will be the only lasting remembrance of your day. When you choose a wedding photographer, it’s important to ask yourself some questions before signing a contract.

 

Can I see samples of the photographer’s work?
The photographer should have samples of their work on their website. These samples will usually not include a full wedding gallery, but selections of important moments and memorable images. If you would like to see a full wedding gallery, just ask the photographer and he or she will often be happy to show you one.

Does this photographer’s work match the kind of wedding I envision for myself?
Try to find a photographer whose samples look similar to what your wedding will be like. If you’re getting married outside, search for natural light photographers. If you’re getting married indoors, search for photographers who shoot with artificial light (a.k.a. flash). Most wedding photographers are comfortable shooting both, but it’s a good idea to ask.

Do I want to schedule engagement photos with this photographer also?
Oftentimes a photographer will offer a special discount to a couple who will book an engagement session along with a wedding. The couple can use images from the engagement session for save-the-date cards, for wedding announcements, or for shower invitations.

What are the terms of the photographer’s contract?
Make sure you read all the fine print and agree before signing. If you have any questions or concerns, ask the photographer but oftentimes the contract is set and will not be changed for individual terms and conditions.

Where will I be getting ready before the wedding?
Most couples want photos of the time before the ceremony, with the groom straightening his tie, the bride’s mother helping her with her dress, all the bridesmaids getting their hair done or makeup applied, and so on. This might not be important to you, but if you want those beautiful pre-ceremony photos, make sure your pre-ceremony space has good light and is clutter-free. If you are restricted to a basement, tiny bathroom, or some dim corner in a room, just be realistic about how the images will turn out, or be willing to move to a better location to recreate some of the “getting ready” moments.

Do I have special photos that I’d like the photographer to capture?
I know you’ve been pinning wedding images on Pinterest for months. If you want that picture of your wedding dress hanging up, where will it hang? Do you have a spot for it? Do you have a special hanger for it (instead of the plastic hanger from the store)? Or, how about the cool sparkler exit – have you bought the sparklers and timed them for how long they will burn? Do you have enough time to get them all lit and walk past the guests? And does your venue allow sparklers? Communicate with your photographer about the ideas you have and he or she will be honest about whether or not those images are possible.

When will I first see my partner on our wedding day?
Some couples choose to take the traditional route and avoid seeing each other at all until the bride comes down the aisle. This is most common, but bear in mind that no group photos (involving both bride and groom) will be taken before the ceremony. So, be sure to budget enough time between the ceremony and the reception for group photos (both family and wedding party), as well as couples photos. Some couples choose to do what’s called a “First Look” where the bride and groom have a private moment together – with the photographer nearby capturing their expressions – before the ceremony to see each other in their wedding attire. This is not as common, but it is still very special and very intimate, as the couple may share this first look with only each other. Couples who choose to do a “First Look” often do so because the wedding and ceremony are timed closely together. Also, this allows the couple to attend and enjoy their own cocktail and hors d’oeuvres hour.

When will I see my images? And how will they be presented to me?
Photographers have different methods of presenting images to their clients: Some photographers offer online viewing, some photographers offer personal consultations, some photographers will mail a CD or USB to their clients. However you will see the images, make sure you understand the timeline for viewing and ordering products. Weddings result in a high number of images to sort through, so photographers need time to give adequate attention to the details of your day.

What am I going to do with my wedding images?
Your wedding images are special and should be treated as such. On your 10th anniversary, or 25th or 50th, you won’t want to look back on your wedding day by inserting a CD into a computer and viewing the images on a 15.6″ screen. Your wedding day images should be seen and enjoyed. If you want to print your own images, make sure your photographer offers full-resolution digital images with a print release. If you’d prefer to order professional images that will last a lifetime, ask your photographer to see samples of his or her products. Yes, wedding albums are still very much a thing too. Album design can be overwhelming, so it may be worth it to you to allow a professional to do it.

 

One bit of advice I feel I must share is this: your wedding photos should last a lifetime. If you are working with a strict budget, do not cut corners for sub-par wedding photography. Now is not the time to make a choice based solely on price. Many parts of the ceremony and reception will fade into the background but the images of your day will remain in photos for years to come. You will never regret having a photographer who captures all the moments of your day and treats them as memorable as you do.